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Catalonia is committed to take a firm stance against the deficit despite all the backlashes, Artur Mas tells the Wall Street Journal

Characterised as one of the most powerful men in combating the Spanish financial crisis, Catalan President Artur Mas presents his forceful economic strategy to the US newspaper

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18 July 2011 09:23 PM

by

Caitlin Smith

Barcelona (ACN).- In an interview with the world renowned Wall Street Journal, Catalonia's President, Artur Mas, has presented his strategy for economic reforms to the international press: pushing ahead with spending cuts regardless of a hostile social or political response. In times of increased economic tension, the President is opting for a tough response to the crisis, requiring the "strong effort" of both the Catalan government and the central government in Madrid. Such efforts are being under taken to overcome the challenging deficit and ensure that Catalonia meets its commitment of a 1.3% GDP target for 2012.


President Mas has told the Wall Street Journal that "Catalonia is providing an example of how to face the problems and provide solutions; even if they are solutions that provoke social backlashes\u201D. \u201DWe are willing to assume these backlashes", he said to the US newspaper.

This comes, as the newspaper notes, after negotiations with unions to extend working hours and cuts to public health care spending by 6%, both of which prompted popular protests to take place. Such acts, Mas claims, are necessary following the poor financial situation he inherited when his party, Convergència i Unió, came to power in December.

Characterised as a powerful man, Mas is both a symbol of the economical changes happening within Spain and a figure removed from the Madrid government; a curiosity which perhaps prompted the interest of one of the largest and most prestigious newspapers in the world. Whilst the newspaper recounts Catalonia's traditional struggles for autonomy and the fact that it is the largest economy within Spain, it also draws connections between Barcelona\u2019s power and the state government.

Despite gaining power in the backlash against Zapatero's Socialist party, which was "undermined by the deep economic crisis", the Convergència i Unió party has continued to show support for the Spanish government, the WSJ says. For Mas, this support is now dependant on the Prime Minister and the government as a whole remaining committed to the unfinished economic strategy. "If we see there isn't an agenda for reforms in October or November" he warned the newspaper, "there will have to be elections this fall."

Despite being Spain's greatest challenge, the failing economy has an international aspect. Linking the Greek debt crisis and the panic selling that it caused, with the suffering of Spanish bond prices, the Wall Street Journal suggests a lack of confidence may be the greatest challenge to economic reform. Using a combination of public optimism and forceful reform, Mas is attempting to inspire this much needed confidence back into the financial sector.

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  • Catalan president Artur Mas (by ACN)

  • Catalan president Artur Mas (by ACN)